Important Issues in Pharmaceutical Branding

BY Rachel Cagle
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Trust Transparency Center released the results of a new survey finding that most Americans prefer natural dietary supplements over synthetic and think synthetic supplements should be labeled as such. This is an important step in the future of pharmaceutical branding.

Pharmaceutical Branding Opinions

The national survey fielded by Ooyen Research was conducted in August 2018 on behalf of Trust Transparency Center. The survey was conducted online among a cross section of 1,002 adults in the U.S., age 18 and over. The survey found these pharmaceutical branding opinions:

  • Among supplement users and those with an opinion, 83% of respondents said synthetic supplements should always be labeled.
  • Fifty-​one percent of women said supplements should always be labeled synthetic
  • Only 8.15% of respondents said they would purchase synthetic-​labeled supplements and of that group 4.32% of respondents said they'd want the product labeled synthetic.

Vitamin/​Nutritional Supplements Shoppers like to do their research before making purchases. Last year, 63.8% of this audience used a search engine to research a product they were considering purchasing and 47.7% researched health or medical information, according to AudienceSCAN. Pharmaceutical branding can make these searches easier on consumers by being more transparent with their labeling. About 25% also have used a mobile device to compare prices while shopping within the last six months. Also, 22.1% have been inspired to take action by non-​promotional information on social media.

Should manufacturers be required to identify/​label "synthetic" ingredients used in a dietary supplement (vitamins, minerals, herbs, protein powder, fish oil, etc.)?

"We live in an era of increasing transparency," said Scott Steinford, Founder and Managing Partner, Trust Transparency Center and author of The ROI of Trust Transparency. "Consumers expect brands to be transparent with their materials and the results of this survey support that consumers want to know if the product they're buying is derived from synthetic material."

In August 2018, the European Commission (EC) issued a ruling that allows the term synthetic to be removed from zeaxanthin labels. The ruling stated that it was "to alleviate any potential negative economic impact that the use of synthetic may cause due to the negative connotation of the term synthetic."

Nearly 57% of Vitamin/​Nutritional Supplement Shoppers view store brands as being just as good as national brands, reports AudienceSCAN. Both national and store brands can gain competitive edges through pharmaceutical branding by increasing the depth of their labeling to target this audience.

"In some cases, the synthetic form is more beneficial to the body, and without labeling consumers won't know that," added Steinford. "Making decisions to help the economic well-​being of a company vs. offering trust transparency to consumers is a disservice to consumers and the industry."

Last year, 50% of Vitamin/​Nutritional Supplement Shoppers took action after receiving an email ad, according to AudienceSCAN. That's not the only digital media this group responds to. About 40% took action last year after seeing a text link ad on a website and 35.6% reacted to ads on a mobile smartphone app or received via text. Some traditional advertising methods aren't bad either. Last year, 64.3% of this audience took action after receiving ads or coupons via direct mail and 61.9% reacted to TV commercials.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.